Our Montessori-inspired education aims to provide an age-appropriate, prepared, and stimulating learning environment for all children, focused on the sensitive periods of the child. The child learns through guided choice of work activities and discovery, in which self-learning is promoted. Everything is relevant to the life of the child and all Montessori materials are child-sized and meticulously arranged in an aesthetically pleasing environment. The teacher (also known as the directress), child, and environment form a learning triangle. The teacher prepares the environment and acts as a guide to the child, encouraging independence, freedom within limits and a sense of order. The child chooses what is offered in the environment to develop his/her potential and interacts with the teacher with support is needed. Montessori is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—emotional, social, physical and cognitive.
We offer Montessori-inspired programs for children aged 2 years to 6 years.
The mediums of instruction at St. Nicholas’ are English, Cantonese and Putonghua.
Our program gives students a solid academic foundation in preparation for their primary years in either local or international schools. The curriculum includes:
We provide a language-rich environment for the child to develop fluency in English, Cantonese and Putonghua. Our curriculum consists of stories, songs and rhymes, vocabulary enrichment, sound games, word study and reading analysis to build a strong language foundation for the child. Language development begins with concept development through matching and identifying objects and words. Three-part cards introduce various nomenclature with pictures and words.
The Montessori Phonics Reading Sequence transitions a child from initial sounds to whole words, including three-letter phonic words, consonant blends and phonograms. We combine it with the Jolly Phonics’ songs and actions, which allow greater interaction and fun when learning phonics. Throughout the three years at St. Nicholas’, the child will have mastered all 42 letter sounds. The Montessori Movable alphabets are also leveraged to aid the child in spelling even before writing. The child hones his/her fine motor skills through tracing sandpaper letters and metal insets, which indirectly prepares for writing. Eventually, the child will be able to dictate and write simple words, sentences, paragraphs, journal entries and even create his or her own stories. In the last year, we also introduce grammar and the different parts of speech to ensure smooth transition to primary school.
Columbia University Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP):
Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP) is a research based, well established, dynamic reading and writing project developed by Columbia University in the United States. Its staff developers carry out constant research and travel worldwide delivering up to the minute training to teachers. Since the introduction of this project St. Nicholas’ students’ stamina for reading and writing within a meaningful context has prepared them to succeed as avid readers and writers as they progress into primary schools.
In the classroom, children participate in writer’s workshops where they learn and are given a chance to apply the skills of what real writers do. The workshop begins with a short mini lesson, the teacher models one strategy and the children are given opportunities for active engagement, where they also try the strategy independently or with a partner. After the mini lesson, the children are able given an extended period time to write independently where they build stamina and try the strategies that have been taught. During that time, the teacher acts as a facilitator monitoring how children can independently apply what has been taught, hold small group strategy group sessions or individual conferences with each child to help them progress in their skills as readers and writers. It is a great opportunity for the children to be creative and allows them to build on their communication skills by presenting and sharing their learning to their teachers and peers.
For more information, please visit http://readingandwritingproject.org
Chinese words are first introduced as pictographs so that children can easily associate words with the corresponding pictures. The child learns all the Chinese word radicals, parts and shapes, which allows them to create different word combinations as well as expressions. We have created Montessori-inspired teaching aids for the Chinese curriculum, taking inspiration from the English materials. These include three-part cards to aid Chinese vocabulary recognition, sandpaper Chinese strokes allowing children to trace before writing Chinese characters and Chinese radical and character puzzles similar to the Movable Alphabet so that children can create various Chinese characters even before writing with a pencil.
English and Chinese Guided Reading Program
St. Nicholas’ is the one of the first kindergartens in Hong Kong to introduce English and Chinese Guided Reading into its curriculum. In small groups, students learn to read each and every word in a series of levelled readers. We have chosen both fiction and non-fiction books from the Oxford Reading Tree Series imported from the United Kingdom, so as to expose children to a wider range of text types. The Chinese readers focuses on the whole language approach. Through repetitive phrases, pictures and guided questions, children are able to read and deduce the storyline and ending thereby cultivate various reading abilities, such as observation, association and inference skills. Within three years, our students will have acquired 840 Chinese characters and over 1,600 Chinese vocabularies. St. Nicholas’ has nurtured numerous avid readers over the years, allowing them to unlock new knowledge and jumpstart a journey of self-learning.
Sensorial lays a solid foundation for Mathematics. The sensorial materials stimulate all of the child’s five senses, including visual, tactile, auditory, taste and smell. Children learn to match and grade the materials, which helps them to develop the concepts of order, comparison and classification. The child learns to transition from concrete to abstract concepts. The Three Period Lesson easily allows association of the sense perception with the name, recognition of the name of the object and verbalizing the name corresponding to the object. The child is also expected to carry each material from and to the shelf, which enables gross motor activity.
Mathematics learning begins with the Sensorial materials, which acts as the foundation. Numeration (of the numbers 1 through 10) is the next step in the Mathematics program. After a child develops solid knowledge in Numeration, the child can then move on to Linear Counting, the Decimal System and Memorization. Montessori stresses the importance of development of concepts from concrete to abstract. Mathematics learning begins with quantity first, and numbers after. We provide ample hands-on learning experience with the Mathematics materials. From an early age, the child is able to grasp complex Mathematics concepts, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division up to four digits, skip counting, squaring, cubing and fractions. The early years Montessori Mathematics program prepares the child for later cognitive development, critical and logical thinking, and inspires the child’s confidence and desire for future self-learning opportunities.
Practical life activities teach practical skills while aiding eye-hand coordination and development of concentration, independence, confidence and organizational skills. The child learns to care for the environment and care for self. Grace and courtesy skills are also practiced. Practical life activities help to hone a child’s gross and fine motor skills.